There’s a temptation from both players and managers to push things a little harder than they would in a normal season. They know it’s a shortened season, they know there’s a chance that if they can find a bit of momentum they could end up winning a championship or league that otherwise may not have been on the cards, and because of all that they’re more willing to ignore the tight hamstring or pain in their achilles that they otherwise would have flagged with the physio.
Then boom. They’re injured. Simple overuse injury. Season over. Players and managers alike have to take responsibility for their own safety and fitness, and a lot of it is coming down to feeling like they can’t afford to take the foot off the pedal with such a tight season in front of them.
Think about how you enter a normal season. A lot of guys will use the winter months away from collective training to put in a serious shift in the gym and maximise the time they’re off the pitch with a strength and conditioning program. Then as we transition away from multiple gym sessions per week to pitch sessions our bodies adjust to the demands of increasing intensity, multidirectional movement, jumping, landing and eventually into taking contact.
Fast forward a few weeks from there and challenge games start being rolled out and we begin to fine tune toward competitive football. Even at that, there’s always a raft of injuries in those first few weeks as that step up to the intensity and workload of competitive games takes its toll on the bodies of the under-prepared.
When you look at that is it any surprise we’re seeing so many injuries when you’ve got a preparation cycle which usually begins in November/December and works toward getting you flying for mid-March has been squashed into a six week period, and I know plenty who didn’t even get six weeks.
So now, more than ever is a time NOT to ignore the red flags your body is alerting you of. Guys who have never had any significant injury in their entire playing careers, largely down to how well they look after themselves with their year round gym work, are struggling. They had no gym access for four months odd, they aren’t as strong or as fit as they where prior to lockdown but aren’t adjusting the expectations they have of themselves to match their physical capabilities. It’s a tough one, because a lot of the time you’ll not know you aren’t at your physical best till you hear a pop or a crack and the injury has happened.
Playing games will be the best tool for bringing up match-sharpness you have at your disposal and being fit to play them has to be your number one priority. If that means game to game your focus is maximising recovery as opposed to trying to “getting fitter” then that is the way to go to give yourself a chance of being involved in every game from now til you end the year with something to celebrate!
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